Famous hotels in Helsinki – how have they faced the COVID-19 pandemic?

On the 10th of December 2021, a group 2nd and 3rd years students from the Hotel Management course had an opportunity to go to Helsinki to visit two famous hotels during a study trip. Clarion Hotel’s Executive Sale Manager and Hotel Haven’s Duty Manager welcomed us for a detailed visit to their establishments and to learn how they have faced the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clarion Hotel

Clarion Hotel, located near the harbor area and Marina of Helsinki, was opened five years ago by Choice Hotel International company. This is the first international brand to open in the area in 20 years. The company is composed of many brands following both industry trends and customers’ wishes to provide them with a large choice of services in more than 30 different hotels.

Rooms and facilities

The hotel has 425 rooms, each of them are unique – from the standard ones to luxury ones. Clarion is the 5th largest hotel in terms of number of rooms in Helsinki. Prices vary between 400€ and 700€ per night according to the seasons, weekdays, and special events in the area, which can attract 10,000 business travelers from around the world!

The most famous Suites are located on the 16th floor, just behind the pool, with a top view on the harbor area and the city.

A Nordic design is present in all the rooms, underlining the identity of the establishment with Finnish and Norwegian made furniture and decoration elements with a refined style.

The restaurant can welcome 380 people all along the day from breakfast to dinner, rooms can be split to fit each type of event and customers can enjoy a beautiful view of the ocean. Other facilities such as gym, swimming pool, sauna, and the famous sky room attract local people – even more on weekends.

Clarion Hotel owns unique meeting packages in the area which allows the establishment to face the competition of Scandic Park Hotel and Scandic Grand Marina Hotel. The hotel owns the biggest conference room attached to a hotel in the city. 10 to 110 people can be welcomed in the conference room, even 200 when the room is fitted for a seminar. 14 meeting rooms are also available for the customers, offering a more private working space.

Customers and employee’s profile

70% of the customers are domestic tourists, so the international tourism is less profitable for this kind of hotel. 80% of the revenues come from business travels and 20% from private holidays. The sky room is mainly used by young adults aged between 30 and 40 years old during the weekends, and business travelers on the weekdays.

Employees are characterized by their multiculturality. Equality and humanity are the two main values managers are looking for while organizing talent hunts. In average 800 applications are selected, and best candidates are recruited primary for their attitude and their values.

The least but no the last competence recruiters are looking for is languages, speaking English is mandatory to work at the reception but it’s also important to be able to answer email in Northern languages such as Swedish. This organization allows Clarion Hotel to recruit a talented and varied workforce. A total of 140 employees is divided between two hotels in the area. This number has been greatly reduced due to the pandemic; the number of employees was 215 in 2019. 

Response to the COVID-19 pandemic

The hotel is also active for this social responsibility by taking care of the local environment and community. Indeed, during the COVID-19 pandemic the hotel has provided lunch for people working at the local vaccination center. They are also committed for other issues such as accessible tourism with accessible rooms, areas, and facilities, fighting against school bullying, and protecting bee’s ecosystem. Clarion sets an example as a hotel that makes you understand that being a hotel owner is a long-term business.

Hotel Haven

Hotel Haven has been constructed in 2009 using 200 years-old office buildings of Helsinki city center. It is owned by the same company of Clarion Hotel. An extension has been added in 2016 in order to rise the number of rooms and reach a total of 137 rooms.

Rooms and facilities

We had the opportunity to visit different types of rooms such as the luxury room, the prime superior room and the combined room. The luxury one is characterized by a very high height under ceiling (4,5 meters) which create the impression of being in a castle.

Concerning prices they varied in function of the type of the room of course, however, the space and the view are two criteria customers are looking for when they make their reservation. For instance, a luxury room with a bigger space but without a nice view is more expensive than another luxury room smaller with a nicer view. Moreover, characteristics of the rooms must also fit special requests of each customer, one will prefer a see view when another will choose a room with a good orientation to enjoy the sunrise in the morning.

In the establishment we can find two restaurants which are not rent by Hotel Clarion itself, 4 conference rooms and one auditorium. Conference rooms are combinable and can fit different types of events like brainstorming sessions or Christmas dinner. Contrary to Clarion Hotel there is not other facilities such as a gym, a swimming pool, or a sauna because they take advantage of their location in the city center to cooperate with local service providers (e.g., coffee place for business customers).

Customers and employee’s profile

The hotel mainly welcomes Finnish tourists on the weekends thanks to just-married packages provided in a romantic atmosphere. Obviously, the customer type varies along the year through business seasons and processes are adapted according to each customer.

The hotel counts 10 employees in full-time at the reception, approximately 4 during the day shift and 2 during the night shift. Moreover, 20 people are employed at the restaurant. The manager defines its employees as open-minded and flexible, which is a mandatory skill to work in a Service Industry such as the Hotel Industry, to meet customers’ expectations and find a solution to any issue. 

Response to the pandemic

Concerning services, the hotel has been used to provide turn-down services in the past, but this has changed due to COVID-19 safety measures (to avoid contact) so it only down on customer’s request. Speaking about cleaning there is no time-limit defined for the housekeeping department – the hotel prioritizes the quality of the cleaning rather than the time spent. Moreover, some furniture, such as living room table made of glass, take more time to clean thoroughly.

Thanks

Thank you Mrs. Susanna Nuijanmaa for this study trip which made us learn more about the Hotel Industry by visiting these two hotels. We are now more aware of the current situation of hotels while facing COVID-19 pandemic and we’ve been able to illustrate our learnings in this course of Hotel Management.

To find more information about Clarion Hotel please use the following link 👉 https://clarionhotel.fi/

To find more information about Hotel Haven please use the following link 👉  https://www.hotelhaven.fi/en/?gclid=Cj0KCQiA09eQBhCxARIsAAYRiynZGCfiyDtvZaVxu-7boMYHps4HBqHb2griC4MsRVsBOQJ0-ntouXoaAppaEALw_wcB

Capucine Huon

2nd year student

Tourism Management – Exchange student from France